Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 November 2019

British author accuses India of 'sinister plan' over cancellation of his citizenship after criticism of Modi

India has accused Aatish Taseer of 'concealing information' that his father was of Pakistani origin

The author Aatish Taseer.
The author Aatish Taseer.

British author Aatish Taseer has hit out at the Indian government over the cancellation of his citizenship.

It comes after the columnist made critical comments about Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an article for Time magazine.

Mr Taseer has told the BBC he believes it is part of a "sinister plan".

India's home ministry says he tried to "conceal information that his father was of Pakistani origin".

A spokeswoman for India's Home Ministry said on Thursday that Taseer was ineligible for Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status - which allows foreigners of Indian ancestry to visit, work and live in the country indefinitely - because he concealed that his late father was Pakistani.

India does not grant OCIs to individuals who are or whose ancestors were citizens of Pakistan or Bangladesh. It also does not allow dual citizenship.

Mr Taseer, who is the son of Indian columnist Tavleen Singh and Salman Taseer, a Pakistani politician assassinated in 2011, said the government had "weaponised" a technicality to punish him.

"I feel that anybody in my position has been sent a chilling message," he said.

"What they have done is make an example of me. They are really showing that they are willing to go after writers and journalists."

The 38-year-old, who lives in the US, now fears the move will prevent him from visiting his mother and grandmother in India.

Mr Taseer said his mother had always been his sole legal guardian and he did not have contact with his father until the age of 21.

He added that he was unsure what nationality he had listed for his father, who was also British, on his application but stressed he had never sought to hide his Pakistani links and wrote about his father extensively in a book Stranger to History, which was published in 2007.

"I've not been given an opportunity to explain this," he said.

He has held Indian citizenship documents since 2000.

Updated: November 8, 2019 07:12 PM

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